If you've been listening to our show this week, you know we've been kind of stuck on the maple syrup kick. Yesterday (Mar 13) we talked with Teresa Marrone who wrote a cookbook that features maple syrup in 75 some recipes... and today (Mar 14) our guest was John O'Reilly, the Environmental Education Coordinator and Assistant Director at Saint John’s Arboretum.

John gave us the lowdown on this weekend's Maple Syrup Festival at the Arboretum.  The monks have been Maple syruping at Saint John’s since the 40's and for nearly 70 years, members of the Saint John’s community have carried on the tradition. John revealed that the syrup is only available during the festival and to those that attend, and have never sold it to anyone. (So we're assuming that once they develop cars that run on maple syrup, St. John's will be new OPEC.) He did say that only once have they released the syrup made out in the 'Sugar Shack', and it was so Third Street Brewhouse in Cold Spring could add it to their limited edition craft beer that bears the vintage syrup processing facility's name.

John says the festival is a family outing and is one of those events that not only gives you the usual tour and information on the process, but you actually get to do a little 'syruping' yourself. You'll also get to taste the unique syrup over ice cream, which he says is his favorite way to use the brown sticky bliss.

The event is this Saturday (March 16th & April 6th) from 1-4 p.m. at Saint John’s Abbey & University. Registration will be near Saint John’s Prep School. Arboretum members can attend the festivals for $5 per adult and free for children. Cost for Scouts and non-members is $10 per adult and $5 per child (ages 4-17); kids age 3 and under are free. Arboretum memberships are available online and will be available at the festivals. Preregister for the festival by the Friday before and receive $1 off per person, up to $10 per family. Call 320-363-3163 or visit their web site for more and to register.

Listen to the entire conversation with John O'Reilly

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